Wondering how hundreds of acres of defence land could virtually “vanish into thin air”, the Allahabad High Court has constituted a four-member committee to take steps for demarcating and protecting the land.
The land, measuring 482 acres, was acquired in 1950 from the two villages of Nagla Nagli and Nagla Sagpur in Gautam Budh Nagar district for building a permanent Air Force firing and bombing range. The court found that the revenue records available with the state authorities either presented different statistics vis-à-vis the 1950 acquisition or the records were said to be missing with respect to these two villages.
In its order on May 19, a division bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta said, “The material, which has been placed on record, indicates that valuable land, which was acquired for the purposes of the IAF in 1950 against the payment of compensation, has been allowed fritter away. How land acquired for an Air Bombing Range for the IAF can vanish into thin air defies explanation and stretches the limits of credulousness.”
The court formed the committee with the following officers: (i) A nominee of the Commanding Officer of Indian Air Force Station at Hindon (the officer being not less than the rank of Group Captain); (ii) DEO (Delhi Circle); (iii) Director of Survey of India (Lucknow) and (iv) District Magistrate (Gautam Budh Nagar). The DEO has been asked to file an affidavit on behalf of the committee by July 28, the next date of hearing.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Ajit Singh, a journalist and social worker in Noida area, through his counsels Vidhu Prakash Pandey and Anoop Trivedi. Singh alleged that the land mafia, in alleged collusion with the revenue authorities, had fabricated and manipulated the records which resulted in the encroachment and creation of private structures like farmhouses, buildings in these two villages on land that was meant for the IAF.
The PIL has demanded that the land be protected from the alleged manipulators and a CBI inquiry be ordered. A couple of intervention applications have also been filed by those residing in these areas on the ground that they could be the affected third party and they should also be heard before the court passes a final order. The court allowed these applications.
The committee will monitor the entire exercise of demarcating the lands.
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